10 Sunday Reads

Avert your eyes! My Sunday morning look at incompetency, corruption and policy failures:

Three AI insights for hard-charging, future-oriented smartypantses: “Over and over, the claims of AI pitchmen turn out to be blatant lies. This has been the case since at least the age of the Mechanical Turk, the 18th chess-playing automaton that was actually just a chess player crammed into the base of an elaborate puppet that was exhibited as an autonomous, intelligent robot. So much AI turns out to be low-waged people in a call center in the Global South pretending to be robots that Indian techies have a joke about it: “AI stands for ‘absent Indian'”  (Pluralistic)

23andMe’s Fall From $6 Billion to Nearly $0: From celebrity ‘spit parties’ to a drop in the bucket: The once-hot DNA-testing company is struggling to profit. (Wall Street Journal)

The War on ‘Woke Capital’ Is Backfiring: Republicans want to outlaw state investment in funds they see as tainted by progressive ideology. They’ll probably just get lower returns. (The Atlantic)

Corporate Self-Oversight: Four auditing firms examine the books of nearly every big U.S. company, in a process riddled with conflicts of interest. But federal monitoring is making a comeback under new leadership. (American Prospect)

The Rooftop Solar Industry Could Be on the Verge of Collapse: the residential solar industry is floundering. In late 2023 alone, more than 100 residential solar dealers and installers in the U.S. declared bankruptcy, according to Roth Capital Partners—six times the number in the previous three years combined. Roth expects at least 100 more to fail. The two largest companies in the industry, SunRun and Sunnova, both posted big losses in their most recent quarterly reports, and their shares are down 86% and 81% respectively from their peaks in January 2021. (Time)

Far-Right Snowflakes Are Terrified of the Super Bowl and Taylor Swift: The big-brained tough guys of online see the Kansas City Chiefs’ fourth Super Bowl appearance in five years as evidence of a Deep State psy-op. (Daily Beast) see also Taylor Swift, Travis Kelce and a MAGA Meltdown: The fulminations surrounding the world’s biggest pop icon — and girlfriend of Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce — reached the stratosphere after Kansas City made it to the Super Bowl. (New York Times)

Milton Friedman, the Prizefighter: The economist’s lifelong pugilism wasn’t in spite of his success—it may have been the key to it. That’s the emergent lesson of “Milton Friedman: The Last Conservative,” a new intellectual biography by the Stanford historian Jennifer Burns. Despite considerable access to sources, and even Friedman’s children, Burns never quite pulls back the veil on her subject’s psychology. But her exhaustive account of Friedman’s underdog decades does illuminate how the field of economics slowly polarized around his work. (New Yorker)

Iranian agent recruited Hells Angels in murder-for-hire plot: The plot is the latest in a growing list of interrupted Iranian-backed plots against regime dissidents around the world, including on U.S. soil. (Task and Purpose)

A federal judge is fed up with those defending the Jan. 6 rioters:  “So let me set the record straight … this was not a protest that got out of hand. It was a riot; in many respects a coordinated riot. … ‘Protesters’ would have simply shared their views on the election — as did thousands that day who did not approach the Capitol. But those who breached and occupied the Capitol building and grounds halted the counting of the electoral college votes required by the 12th Amendment. The rioters interfered with a necessary step in the constitutional process, disrupted the lawful transfer of power, and thus jeopardized the American constitutional order. Although the rioters failed in their ultimate goal, their actions nonetheless resulted in the deaths of multiple people, injury to over 140 members of law enforcement, and lasting trauma for our entire nation. This was not patriotism; it was the antithesis of patriotism.” (Washington Post)

Will You Vote for Trump Again? It’s the question weighing on Republicans across the country. But Iowans get to decide first. Jesse Gutierres believes only one Republican candidate will restore confidence in the economy. Kelly Nieuwenhuis wants to move beyond the chaos. Shannon Demastus wants a president she can be proud of. We listened as they grappled with their choices. (New York Times)

Be sure to check out our Masters in Business this week with Tom HancockGrantham, Mayer & Otterloo‘s head of the Focused Equity team and Quality Strategies. He is the portfolio manager for the Quality Fund (GQETX). The fun has returned 13.43% annually over the past decade (versus 12.03% for the S&P 500), putting it in the top 1% of peers, and is a Morningstar 5 Star, Gold-rated. He oversees an exchange-traded fund US Quality Equity ETF (QLTY) — the first retail product from GMO since its launch in 1977.


The US housing market has been frozen. Owners haven’t been looking to remortgage at higher rates, and would-be buyers have struggled to make offers in one of the most unaffordable markets on record

Source: Chartr


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